OTTAWA — Retired Putnam County Judge Michael O’Malley, 74, died at 11:40 p.m. Sunday at North Collier Hospital in Naples, Florida. He was 74.
O’Malley moved to Putnam County from Cuyahoga County and became a county court judge in 1993. In a previous Lima News interview he said he tried drug and burglaries in Cuyahoga County but his first case in Putnam County involved a horse kicking a window in Ed’s Bar.
O’Malley helped the county court institute a probation officer position, which hadn’t been established before he arrived.
Judge Chad Niese of Putnam County Municipal Court knew O’Malley since Niese had returned to the area in 1998. They shared the bench from 2005 to 2010 when O’Malley retired.
“He was a friend and a mentor,” Niese said.
Niese went on to say O’Malley had chosen to live in Putnam County. He said people like himself who are born and raised in the county grow up loving it but O’Malley chose to love it.
Niese said they had not just been judges together but friends as well.
“He always wanted to know about my children,” he said. “And he spoke highly of his own children and grandchildren.”
O’Malley was a compassionate man and not just in life but also on the bench, Niese said.
“He once told me the people we see, for the large part, aren’t bad folks,” he said. “We can help them from making choices that will ruin the rest of their lives.”
O’Malley previously had told The Lima News the people he saw on the bench had problems with alcohol or fell on hard times and because of that made bad choices. He said the court room was a way to help people get their lives together and make better choices.
Niese said he carries that compassion in his own work as a judge.
He said he hopes the people of Putnam County understand what they had in O’Malley and what they have lost now that he has died.
“Mike’s going to be missed.” Niese said.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.